Whale Adaptations: Flippers
to Main Lesson
to Turn and Steer
on drawing to see labeled enlargement
- As whales
adapted to life in water, the shoulder remained movable while the elbow
and wrist stiffened. The forelimbs became rigid paddles (flippers).
Two large flippers are located about 1 meter (3 feet) behind and below
the eyes. These pectoral fins help the whale steer and turn and
- The skeleton
of a gray whale flipper has four long finger-like digits and looks similar
to a human hand. The digits in the flippers cannot be moved individually
like our fingers can, but whales use the entire flipper. For example,
a whale mother can use her flippers to hold her baby close while it
- Gray whales
have no dorsal fin. This makes it easier for them to swim through and
sometimes under heavy ice floes.
These breeching whales are showing one of
their powerful flippers.